Suspension of fixed sales tax on merchants

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Suspension of the fixed sales tax on merchants. File photo

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to immediately suspend collection of fixed sales tax on electricity bills from small traders and retailers, and design a new roadmap in consultation with traders for this purpose.

He issued the guidelines while chairing a meeting to review electricity rates and the collection of fixed sales tax through utility bills here on Saturday. “An investigation should be made into the levying of an increased sales tax rate on merchants/retailers in electricity bills other than that agreed,” he said.

The prime minister said traders’ representatives should be taken into account when making any decision on levying taxes through electricity bills.

This development comes after the government decided to withdraw a fixed tax regime on electricity bills for one year on August 4. The breakthrough was achieved after three days of talks between the government and the trading community who had been protesting the levy since July 1.

“The decision was taken in accordance with the demands of the trading community, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and instructions from the PMLN leadership,” Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said after meeting with them in Islamabad.

Reiterating his commitment to take all possible measures for the financial security of the poor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on all relevant ministries and authorities to immediately finalize an effective mechanism to reduce electricity tariffs to provide relief to the people.

The meeting was attended by Minister of Energy, Engineer Khurram Dastagir, Minister of Finance Miftah Ismail, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr. Musadik Malik, Chairman of FBR, concerned Federal Secretaries and other senior officials .

Receiving the levy from traders via their electricity bill was one of the clauses approved by the National Assembly in the 2022 budget bill on July 29, prompting the community to protest the adjustments.

In addition, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif dissolved the Pakistan Medical Commission, set up by the former Pakistani government Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), for corruption.

According to an announcement issued by the federal government, Prime Minister Shehbaz has dissolved the PMC and suspended all its officials. The Prime Minister had decided in principle that the affairs of the commission would be investigated after receiving reports of corruption they allegedly committed. The new members would be selected by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, official sources said.

However, according to an announcement, the decision would have no impact on the MDCAT and other medical examinations by the PMC in the coming days. The MDCAT tests would be taken on schedule and there would be no changes to the test dates.

It should be noted that the Federal Government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had abolished the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and established the PMC in 2020.

Many students and doctors, including the Association of Young Doctors, had registered protests against the alleged corruption of the president, vice president and other authorities of the PMC.

Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel had asked the federal government to disband the PMC and reinstate the PMDC a few weeks ago.

Mr Waqar Bhatti adds: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has removed the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) by withdrawing the appointments of all members of the Medical and Dental Council of the PMC through a notification, officials from the National Health Services, Regulation and Co-ordination said on Saturday. federal health secretary to manage the affairs of Pakistan’s health regulatory authority, but it could not be confirmed. “In exercising the powers conferred by … the Medical Commission of Pakistan Act 2020, the Appointing/Appointing Authority i.e. the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is pleased to withdraw the appointments of all members of the Medical and Dental Council notified on September 25, 2020 effective immediately,” reads a notification dated August 19.

In accordance with the Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020, the PMC Medical and Dental Council is appointed by the Prime Minister as the chairman of the commission and following these appointments, the members of the council elect their chairman and their vice-president. The removal of the current PMC leadership, including its board members, had been on the cards since the coalition government took over as one of the government’s main allies, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP ) was dissatisfied with the actions of the PMC management, particularly the passing percentage of the MDCAT, the National Licensing Examination (NLE), and the “inflexible” policies of the PMC management.

PMC Chairman Dr Arshad Taqi said he was not officially notified as Saturday was a public holiday and they received no notification on Friday. He added that it was “the Prime Minister’s right” to remove the leadership of the PMC by denoting the Medical and Dental Council and appointing new council members in accordance with the PMC Act 2020.

“Similarly, I don’t know if the names of the new board members have been notified or not. A summary is circulating on social media with some names as new members of PMC’s Medical and Dental Council. It is not known if there is any notification issued in this regard,” Taqi, now the former chairman of the PMC, told The News.

The former PMC chairman said he felt relieved when he unofficially learned of his dismissal, but added that he was also concerned about the politicians regarding the steps they had taken to improve education medicine in the country. “We had just started the accreditation process with the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) and other international accreditation bodies. The process was expected to take 12 to 18 months. Now, with new leadership and new policies, it could be delayed,” he feared.

The removal of the current leadership of the PMC has drawn mixed reactions, with heads and owners of some private medical schools calling it a good decision, while medical professionals and educators were concerned, fearing that standards of medical training is deteriorating in the country.

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